Cape Howe Marine National Park
Situated adjacent to the New South Wales border off the far eastern tip of Victoria, this 4,050 ha park provides habitat for a mixture of cool water southern marine species and warmer water species more common in the north. Beneath a thick canopy of the brown seaweed Phyllospora, shelter a range of species, including red sea tulips, sponges, colourful sea stars and many smaller seaweeds.
Within the neighbouring Croajingolong National Park a number of education facilities are available to visitors including information shelters and boards.
Croajingolong National Park, together with NSW's Nadgee Nature Reserve, is part of the largest coastal conservation reserve on the south eastern Australian mainland. The Marine National Park is adjacent to the Cape Howe wilderness area, and contains a high diversity of intertidal and shallow subtidal invertebrates. Many species from warmer northern waters reach their southern limits in far east Gippsland.
The whole region is alive with a variety of fish, with an assortment of warm and cool water species. Purple Wrasse, Blue-Throated Wrasse and Herring Cale dart amongst the kelp. Large, disk-like sunfish are relatively frequent visitors, cruising slowly in the surface waters feeding on jellyfish. Hundreds of humpback whales pass in the vicinity of the park on their annual migration between the tropics and Antarctic waters, sometimes followed by pods of Orca's. Little Penguins are common too and forage from the large rookery at Gabo Island.
A variety of reefs including granite and sandstone reefs add to the total habitat complexity of the area. Low profile reefs within the park are covered in a dense forest of the brown seaweed Phyllospora that reaches over two metres in length. Beneath this thick, swirling canopy shelter many smaller seaweeds, Pyura ascidians, foliose red algae, coralline algae, brown algae (Zonaria), red sea-tulips, sponges, colourful sea-stars (eg. Pateriella calcar) and many large shells. Tiny brittle-stars, isopods and brightly coloured worms nestle around large sea-squirt congregations, which are quite dense in some areas.
Further off the coast, the seafloor tilts steeply down into deeper water. Sandstone reefs to a depth of about 50 m, are heavily covered by a diverse array of sponges, hydroids, ascidians and gorgonians (soft corals). There is not enough light at these depths for the large brown seaweeds, and the low sandstone reefs are instead covered with small patches of leafy red seaweeds and a range of animals attached to the rocks. Sea-whips are common here and arch gracefully up from the seafloor.
Geological, Hydrological and Landform Features
Habitat types represented in Cape Howe Marine National Park include sandy beaches, intertidal and subtidal rocky reefs, and subtidal soft sediments.
The rocky habitats of the area have complex forms and structure, including low profile reef eroded into pits and gutters, and heavy boulder reef with gutters rock ridges running parallel to the shore at around 5m depth. The reef is exposed to the prevailing easterly swell. Much of the coastline is formed from mobile sand dunes that are gradually shifting over the border into New South Wales. Bordering these dunes is a mixture of ancient pink granite and purple sandstone formed over 350 million years ago. These rocks outcrop near the border at Cape Howe.
Looking After the Park
For the protection of the marine environment, a number of activities are prohibited within the boundaries of Victoria's marine national parks and marine sanctuaries. No fishing, netting, spearing, taking or killing of marine life. All methods of fishing, from the shore or the sea, are prohibited. As users of the marine environment, you can help minimise your impact on these areas by being mindful of the following points:
>>enjoy the marine environment without removing the plants and animals
>>minimise your impact while diving and snorkelling by:
>>being careful to avoid damage to marine life caused by fins
>>developing good skills in buoyancy control
>>securing all gauges and pressure hoses to avoid snagging them on objects
>>take any rubbish home with you - do not dump rubbish into the sea
>>avoid stressing marine life by not chasing or grabbing free-swimming animals
>>exercise great care if approached by large marine animals (including birds) & avoid blocking their paths if moving
>>take care where you anchor your boat (anchor in sand, rubble or mud, avoiding sensitive areas, and use mooring buoys where provided)
>>do not pollute the water with sewage - ensure that if your vessel has an onboard toilet that it has an approved sewage holding facility and that >>sewage is disposed of appropriately on land
>>take the time to learn more about Victoria's marine animals and plants and the habitats they depend upon
Remember, Marine National Parks and Marine Sanctuaries are NO TAKE ENVIRONMENTS. All objects (artefacts), animals eg. fish and crustaceans, plants, and the seabed are totally protected.
For your own safety, only undertake activities appropriate to your skills and abilities. Take all necessary precautions, be aware of changing conditions, and watch for potential hazards, such as rips. A number of Victorian marine animals are potentially harmful if not treated with respect and care, so ensure that you familiarise yourself with these species. Sunburn and hypothermia are also potentially harmful but easily avoided.
SCUBA diving is a potentially high risk activity and should only be undertaken by appropraitely qualified people that have completed recognised training and certification. Victoria's cool water environments can be extremely challenging to those used to diving in warmer waters so ensure that local knowledge is sought before undertaking a dive in a new location. Dive charter operators can provide some of the best advice on diving in Victoria.
How to Get There
Cape Howe Marine National Park is situated adjacent to the New South Wales border off the far eastern tip of Victoria. Accessibility to this remote wilderness is very low, and is either via boat or a long and remote walk in on foot. Few people have seen this remote wilderness at the far eastern tip of Victoria.
Summer holiday programs at Croagingalong National Park are based at Thurra and Wingan Inlet, and outside the Park at Mallacoota. These focus on organised activities such as talks, Ranger-guided walks, spotlighting, Junior Ranger activities, slide shows and environmental games. Croajingolong is used to a limited extent by local and visiting schools and tertiary students for educational studies and research. Contact with Rangers on routine patrols and duties is a valuable source of information for visitors. In addition, the information and interpretation requirements of Park visitors are well served by the Information Centres at Cann River and Mallacoota. The Mallacoota Education Area can be used for educational studies, particularly those involving field study techniques.
Marine National Park and Marine Sanctuaries Resource Kit – This education resources kit contains a comprehensive collection of many materials produced by Parks Victoria in relation to the Marine National Park system including lesson ideas for teachers and links to other resources.
>>Alfred National Park
>>Coopracambra National Park
>>Croajingalong National Park
Information for this National Park has been supplied courtesy of Parks Victoria